Civic News & Info
More than 185 Rural Organizations urge Senate to support Rural Development PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Elisha Smith   
Friday, 08 June 2012 14:42

Lyons, NE - Today, the Center for Rural Affairs joined more than 185 leaders and rural organizations from across the nation in signing and sending a letter sent to every U.S. Senator expressing support for Federal investment in rural development in the Farm Bill currently being debated on the floor of the Senate.

The letter states that one of the proven job-creating titles of the farm bill is the Rural Development title, which authorizes essential grants and loan programs targeted at leveraging local initiatives to spur growth and opportunity in small towns and rural areas.

“If passed as it now stands, this will be the first farm bill in decades to provide no funding for small town and rural development...” Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs


“If passed as it now stands, this will be the first farm bill in decades to provide no funding for small town and rural development. Rural development has already been cut by one-third since 2003, mostly by the annual appropriations process through which Congress divides up the budget,” said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs. “But passing a farm bill with no funding for job creating and community building rural development programs deepens that cut.”

The Center for Rural Affairs and other signatories on the letter urged Senators to correct this deficiency by providing robust funding for the following successful Rural Development programs: Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Rural Energy Savings Program, and Rural Water and Wastewater Treatment Backlog.

“This letter demonstrates strong support for programs that create jobs and assist beginning farmers, small businesses and small towns across rural America,” added Hassebrook.

The signatories also urged investment in the future of American agriculture. Specifically, the letter noted that, “The average age of an American agricultural producer today is 57, and if we let current trends go unchecked, that number will only increase.  Providing training and technical assistance to the next generation of farmers can help buck the trend and ensure future food security.”

However, according to the letter, the Farm Bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee falls far short of maintaining current investment in the training tools that new and diverse farmers need to succeed.

“And that is why we are urging Senators to provide robust mandatory funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Outreach for Socially Disadvantaged and Minority Producers (Section 2501 program),” Hassebrook explained.

The complete letter, including signatories is available here: http://files.cfra.org/pdf/Support-Letter-Brown-Amendment.pdf

 
Quad Cities Chapter of USCPFA Meets for Panel Discussion PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Vince Thomas   
Friday, 08 June 2012 14:17
A research engineer, a restaurant owner and a political science professor discussed their life in China before immigrating to this country and their life here since then, describing the people of the Quad Cities as “warm and friendly”.

The three were featured speakers at a recent discussion of the Quad Cities Chapter of the U.S. China Peoples Friendship Association (USCPFA) in the Bettendorf Library on June 2.

All three agreed they are happy to be in the United States, even though they are concerned about members of their families and friends who are still in China.

Deere & Co., research engineer, Dr. Michael Zhang, said that even though salaries were very low in China, the cost of living was also low in 1990. He said he enjoyed the freedom of expanding his knowledge and use of his talents without government restrictions.

Pin Wah, owner of Ming Wah restaurant in Moline, explained she had come here from China at a young age, but still has difficulty in learning the language. However, that was not a barrier in learning the business from her relatives and finally becoming owner of her restaurant. She said she knows many customers by name and enjoys having conversations with them. Members praised her for her many donations and volunteering at community affairs.

Dr. Xiaowen Zhang of Augustana College, a professor of political science, said she immigrated because she wanted to expand her horizons, even though it disappointed her parents. She has traveled extensively, and finds her students and faculty friendly.

However, Dr. Zhang is concerned that the process of integrating into the community is not easily achieved for newcomers. She said local residents need to know that despite cultural differences, the ordinary citizens of China and this country have very much in common.

Picking up on this comment, Dr. Michael Zhang said that people in China and the U.S. should be concerned that “politicians” in both countries seem to keep the ordinary people of both countries apart for their own benefit.

He pointed out that many Chinese still understand and appreciate the role the U.S. played in befriending China during World War II. He urged those present to make every effort to inform their legislators that the two countries should continue to remain friends and not to be dissuaded by those who “beat the drums of war.”

Yan Li, president of the local Quad Cities Chapter USCPFA, said all the members of the group should consider themselves “ambassadors” of China. That is, even though they are now settled in this country, they should help in bringing a better understanding between the two countries.

Persons interested in attending future panel discussions are urged to be in contact with the association and e-mail Helen Chen: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Scott Co. Board of Supervisors Tentative Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Chris Berge   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 13:16

 
Harkin Announces $2.1 Million for AmeriCorps Programs Across Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 12:45

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that eight Iowa AmeriCorps programs have been awarded a total of $2,107,284 from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).  A longtime champion of AmeriCorps, Harkin helped secure these funds as Chairman of the appropriations panel that oversees CNCS.  

“AmeriCorps volunteers provide vital services that help strengthen Iowa communities,” said Harkin.  “In everything from mentoring kids after school to teaching healthy eating to protecting our natural resources, AmeriCorps is making a difference.  Despite the tough budget climate in Washington, I have fought – and will continue to fight – to support the AmeriCorps program.”

AmeriCorps, which is administered by CNCS, engages 80,000 people each year in intensive, results-driven service through more than 14,000 organizations across the country.  Since 1994, more than 775,000 Americans have provided more than 1 billion hours of service to their communities and country through AmeriCorps.  Among other accomplishments, AmeriCorps members last year mobilized 3.4 million community volunteers, and tutored, mentored or served more than 3.5 million disadvantaged youth.  Interested individuals can learn about available opportunities and apply online by visiting AmeriCorps.gov.

Details of the Iowa funding are as follows:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, BBBS AmeriCorps Consortium for Eastern Iowa - $130,000
This funding will help to support 14 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will recruit and support volunteers to mentor disadvantaged youth at risk to leave school without a diploma.  The mentoring will result in improved academic achievement among these youth.  The program will serve students in Eastern Iowa.

Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa Inc., AmeriCorps Education Enhancement Project - $216,468
This funding will help to support 25 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will provide after school homework help, healthy choices programming and case management support in the education priority area to increase positive attendance patterns in schools.  The program will serve students age 5 - 18 in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Council Bluffs, Carter Lake, Sioux City, Adair, and Davenport, Iowa.

City of Dubuque, Partners in Learning AmeriCorps Program - $210,587
This funding will help to support 48 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will provide in-school, before school and after-school academic mentoring and summer learning opportunities to improve math and reading proficiency in the city of Dubuque, Iowa.

Community Corrections Improvement Association, Each One Reach One AmeriCorps Project - $460,435
This funding will help to support 49 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will leverage volunteers to mentor youth and adult offenders resulting in fewer youth entering the criminal justice system and increased life skills of ex-offenders.  The program will also target families in the child welfare system for abuse and neglect in Linn, Johnson and Tama counties of Iowa.

Graceland University, AmeriCorps Youth Launch - $175,146
This funding will help to support 25 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will leverage  additional volunteers to strengthen academic engagement through mentoring service learning cultural/enrichment opportunity programs and building 'developmental assets' as indicators of academic achievement in rural south central Iowa.

Habitat for Humanity of Iowa, Inc., Habitat for Humanity of Iowa AmeriCorps - $274,576
This funding will help to support 31 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will recruit and support volunteers to build low-income housing units to eliminate substandard, unaffordable housing in the state of Iowa.  The program will serve low-income families in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Quad Cities, Des Moines, Knoxville, Mason City, Marshalltown, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Webster/Humboldt, and Greene/Boone counties of Iowa.

Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, Keepers of the Land AmeriCorps - $506,727
This funding will help to support 87 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will provide wildlife habitat restoration and trail improvement to reduce water quality decline in the Environmental Stewardship priority area.  The program will serve all residents, particularly in rural communities, throughout the state of Iowa.

United Way of East Central Iowa, Youth Achievement Corps AmeriCorps Program - $133,345
This funding will help to support 11 AmeriCorps member positions.  AmeriCorps members will provide early literacy activities and tutoring in out of school time programs to children and parents, and provide outreach services for children and families with disabilities. Members will serve in Eastern Iowa and the program will address the CNCS focus area of education.

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Simon welcomes Moline to Main Street program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Monday, 04 June 2012 15:06
MOLINE – May 30, 2012. Ambassador to the Illinois Main Street program, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon officially designated Moline as a Main Street community today before a luncheon recognizing economic development officials, city staff and volunteers.

“I’m excited to designate Moline as an official Main Street community. This means access to technical assistance and training on economic development. The designation will compliment what the Moline Centre Main Street program has already done to revitalize this historic part of Moline,” Simon said.

Moline Centre, which is housed in the City of Moline’s Economic Development Department, is the only Illinois Main Street program that operates within a unit of local government. The program is funded through Moline’s two downtown Special Service Area (SSA) taxing districts and manages the maintenance contracts for the SSA.

The taxing districts generate revenue to provide downtown businesses with public way maintenance, marketing and promotional materials, as well as financing for rehabilitation projects through a façade improvement program that has provided over $300,000 to 21 projects since 2006. Moline Centre hopes to compliment this service with architectural design services in cooperation with Illinois Main Street and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

“Moline is honored to have been selected for participation in the Illinois Main Street Program,” said Moline Centre Coordinator Pam Owens. “Our group has worked very hard to meet the criteria set by the Illinois Main Street Program, and I want to thank all of our volunteers and staff for their efforts. With their continued energy and dedication, we will keep moving forward, and make Downtown Moline Centre a thriving part of our community.”

The designation ceremony took place in front of the City of Mills mural which features a depiction of downtown Moline in 1850. The Downtown Commercial Historic District, which is located in the larger of the two SSAs, is on the National Register of Historic Places and was home to John Deere’s first factory. The manufacturer of agricultural machinery remains headquartered in Moline and is celebrating 175 years in business.

Moline joins Rock Island, which has been a Main Street community since 1996. The Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District implements the program in conjunction with two other organizations – Development Association of Rock Island and Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation – under the umbrella of Renaissance Rock Island.

“The Illinois Main Street program is a great resource to access for revitalization efforts of downtown,” said Brian Hollenback, President of Renaissance Rock Island. “Those resources help us develop and utilize design standards for renovation efforts that are crucial to preserving, revitalizing and telling the story of downtown Rock Island.”

Illinois Main Street is administered by the Office of Regional Economic Development at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and offers its designated communities technical assistance and training in how to revitalize traditional downtowns, neighborhood business districts, and urban corridors. The program is part of the National Main Street Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street Center.

Simon announced in March that the Illinois Main Street Program is once again accepting applications from communities interested in becoming part of the program. Communities interested in obtaining more information can visit www.illinoismainstreet.org.

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